‘In the Heat of the Night’: The Rumor That Carroll O’Connor Had Howard Rollins Fired Amid Reports of His Substance Abuse

In the heat of the night the television series, adapted from the acclaimed film by Sidney Poitier, ran for television. However, one of his top stars was battling drugs and alcohol that made him no longer at the show.

in the heat of the night
Howard E. Rollins Jr. as Chief Examiner / Lawyer Virgil Tibbs, Anne-Marie Johnson as Althea Tibbs, Carroll O’Conner as Chief / Sherriff William “Bill” O. Gillespie on ‘In the Heat of the Night’ | NBCU Photo Bank

Howard Rollins was fighting drug and alcohol abuse

Rollins had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and was eventually eliminated from the show in 1994. Years before it was finally written out, they reported that he was capable of leaving the show after being in the hospital. A National Enquirer report said it was fired in 1989, but the show’s flag, including co-star and executive producer Carroll O’Connor, denied that. There were rumors that O’Connor had fired Rollins. According to. to reports, O’Connor was deeply upset by the rumors.

“The whole thing is a lie,” said Jim Mahoney, speaking for O’Connor in a 1989 interview with the New York Daily News. “Carroll wants Rollins back. And we are all concerned about his well-being. Carroll is embarrassed about the story. I have never seen him confused by this. There is no truth in it, and we are talking to our lawyers about a possible libel suit. ”

Rollins was reportedly in the hospital for chest pain and was released a few days after his admission. “Carroll did not shoot Howard,” David Gerber, chairman of MGM / UA Television Group, told the New York Daily News at the time. “He spoke to him last week and told him it was up to him to go back to the party or not. He told Howard that if he felt up to him, he could return at any time, under the direction of the doctor. ”

During his time on full display, he was arrested four times for drug and alcohol offenses. He also spent one month in prison for reckless driving and DUI. Because of all this, it was written out of the show in the sixth season. Nonetheless, he returned to the show to host several guests in his seventh season.

Anne-Marie Johnson spoke in praise of Howard Rollins several years ago

While Rollins had his affairs in real life, the man closest to him on screen only sang his praises. In an interview less than 10 years ago with In a nightclub heat club, Johnson described her former co-star as “dynamic talent. ”

‘We had never met before our first sight,’ she explained. “I will never forget that day. It was hot and humid and we were burning in Hammond LA. It was an exterior picture of Virgil and Althea walking up the church stairs of her childhood, attending Virgil’s mother’s funeral. I walked up to Howard, introduced myself, made fun of him, made fun of me (I don’t remember what the tease was) and that was it.

According to Johnson, their chemistry came organically. “We were married,” she said. “We had just that chemistry; simple, organic chemistry. We really enjoyed working together. He was such a vibrant talent. Very amazing. We spent more time laughing and joking with each other all those years than anything else. We had such heavy scenes to do every week, we had to ease the atmosphere… not just for ourselves but for our team. ”

Reruns de In the heat of the night currently on air on multiple networks in syndication.

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